Monday, 25 January 2016

Citalopram | My Side Effects

I woke up the other morning and sat thinking about the side effects, both good and bad, that I have experienced since September 2015 when I was started on Citalopram. I thought it would make an interesting blog post for those of you who have no idea what Citalopram is or be interesting and insightful for those of you with a close one on the medication or if you're on it yourself. 

So Citalopram is a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor or SSRI and basically means it ensures there enough serotonin to flow around my brain to have a positive influence on moods and emotions. If I wasn't on Citalopram, my brain would absorb all the serotonin and there wouldn't be enough floating around to have a positive impact on my emotions. It is classified as an anti-depressant medication due to its chemical use within mental health conditions, but it is also used with panic disorders as the brain acts in a similar way. It is a prescription only medication so cannot be bought over the counter, and they are definitely not given out like sweets. Taking SSRIs can have a real positive effect on people whose brains lacks enough serotonin, but they are unsafe to be used for people who have no chemical imbalances in their brain. Despite them being a real life-saver for me, Citalopram in particular is a medication that is known for it's many side effects, many of which I have experienced. When I was first prescribed them, my doctor told me it was likely I would experience some side effects for the first 2-4 weeks while my body adjusts to the chemicals readjusting in my brain and this was certainly true.

I once counted the side effects listed on the information leaflet that came with my tablets and there were a grand total of 48 side effects. The list surprisingly included 'anxiety' and 'panic attacks' which blew my mind, but if you look at the information leaflet for paracetamol, it says it can cause headaches!! I did experience 3 weeks of worsened anxiety and panic attacks which was awful and did land me in A&E on one occasion but once I got over the initial 3-4 weeks, everything seemed to settle down. During these first few weeks, I also experienced loss of appetite, fatigue, headaches, dizziness, terrible nausea and lack of sleep, so as you can imagine it wasn't fun for me. I actually met up with friends at a local pub during the worst week for side effects and I can honestly say it was one of the worst experiences of my life, especially because only three of the 8 friends sat round the table knew I wasn't well. 

They all wore off after 4 weeks and I slowly started to notice the good effects of Citalopram. I was feeling positive, I didn't have the sinking feeling I was used to feeling every day and I started smiling and laughing a lot more. To this day, I still do often feel nauseous in the mornings and do get very bad headaches and these are because of my tablets, but its nothing I can't handle, and the benefits of my tablets outweigh the negatives. The main inspiration for this blog post was one of my more stranger remaining side effects which is vivid thoughts and dreams. This side effect has again been confirmed by my doctor to be medication related and it's something that makes me laugh sometimes. I experience vivid daydreams, so much so when I enter real life is it very difficut for me to believe what I was daydreaming about hadn't actually happened. Similarly, the dreams I have are dreams that are so real life and vivid that I honestly believe they've happened. I don't dream about being in a different country or people turning into animals, I dream about my Dad waking me up and making me come downstairs for breakfast, or a normal shift on the ward or going shopping and buying milk and gherkins. The other weird thing is that when I'm at home, my dreams are at home, when I'm at my uni flat, my dreams are at my uni flat or when i'm staying with Ben, my dreams will be located at his house. However funny this may sound, I also have real life and vivid nightmares, like a family member dying, which is obviously horrible and more upsetting after I wake up than if I dreamt about a lion chasing me across a field. 

Another side effect worth mentioning just as a finishing point is that if I take two tablets too close together, my mood can go one of two ways; I either get hyperactive, excitable and show the same effects as drinking 5 cans of Redbull, or my mood increases my anxiety and I feel very nervous, scared and worried. For this reason, I am very particular about when I take my tablets. This was just a small insight into the side effects of my medication but will write another post regarding Citalopram and its functions in more detail and my thoughts about it if this is something people would like to read? Remember all medication works differently with different people and all medications have their risks alongside their benefits.

Love  Luce xo

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